Spend Too Much on Phone and Cable? Go Digital


Do you have a home phone and cable television? If so, you’re probably spending about $50 to $100 a month on these two services, but you could be spending a lot less. 

These days, if you have high-speed Internet service, you can enjoy most of the benefits of phone and cable service online. And the good news is, these services are either free or quite inexpensive. Here’s how you do it:

Replace Phone Service with Skype
Skype is software that allows users to make phone calls using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). You can also set up video conferences, conference calls and instant messaging. Calls to other Skype users, no matter where they are in the world are free. Calls to landlines and cell phone numbers can be made for a fee.

These fees are charged either pay-as-you-go (with rates starting at $0.021 per minute) or as monthly subscriptions. The subscription for unlimited calls to lines in the United States and Canada is only $2.95 a month. You can also buy an online number ($18 for three months or $60 for 12 months) that allows people to call your Skype line from their landline or mobile phones. Monthly subscriptions also include voicemail service and a discount on an online number. Currently, Skype has clear control of this segment of the telecommunications market, but Google (Stock Quote: GOOG) just announced that it will re-launch Google Voice to give Skype a run for its money.

Watch Television Shows for Free Online
All of the major television networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX) put at least some of their primetime shows (and some daytime shows) free on their web sites after they have aired. These episodes still generate revenue for the networks because they have short online commercials. If you are willing to wait a day after the initial broadcast, you can enjoy some of these shows on your computer. Some cable networks like Discovery TV, Lifetime, MTV, SciFi Channel, Oxygen and The History Channel also offer free programming online.

There are several sites including Hulu and Veoh TV that allow you to watch full episodes and clips from various networks in one place for free. These sites are also supported by limited commercial interruption. In addition, you can watch free movies on Hulu and Veoh TV for free. Most movies are older releases or independent movies.

Download Movies with Netflix or iTunes
For both older and newer releases that you might find on cable movie channels like HBO, Showtime and Starz or on Pay-Per-View, you can use Netflix or iTunes. If you have a subscription to Netflix, you can instantly watch movies on your computer (or on a television through a Netflix ready device) at any time. Subscriptions to Netflix start at $8.99 per month. To download movies to your computer a la carte without a subscription, you can use iTunes. On iTunes you can rent movies for $2.99 or $3.99. You can also buy movies (most start at $9.99). iTunes also allows you to buy individual television shows starting at $1.99.



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